Shortest Form Of The Game Has Enabled Sanath Jayasuriya To Turn Back The Clock In Style
When Sri Lankan batsman Sanath Jayasuriya made his debut in 1989, there were no mobile phones in India. There were no malls, no laptops, no SRK and no IPL. Cricket was a simple game then and Sanath Jayasuriya only made it simpler. He believed in a straight forward maxim: See the ball, hit the ball. Twenty years later, he still believesin that maxim. Only, he’s added another one: That age doesn’t matter as long as you are good. ‘‘So long as you are playing well and performing well, I’m not too worried about age. We have got very good trainers and physios and I work hard with them and the youngsters,’’ Jayasuriya said after scoring 81 in 47 balls and guiding Sri Lanka to a comfortable victory over Ireland at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.
While Jayasuriya was throwing caution to the wind, his opening partner Tillakaratne Dilshan was doing his best to take the limelight away from him by scoring 74 in 47 balls. Surely, it must have brought back memories of the 1996 World Cup when Sanath Jayasuriya partnered Romesh Kaluwitharana to send opposition captains on a hunt for aspirins. How does Dilshan compare with Kaluwitharana? ‘‘He has been playing really, really well and it gives you confidence at the other end. I just have to concentrate on playing well and I played my own game today,’’ he said.
His individual game was all about peppering the boundaries on Wednesday, just like he used to during his heydays. Had he been 20 years younger or had the T20 format been introduced during his glory days, this Lankan could well have broken many records. Does he regret that? ‘‘I’m still enjoying the T20 format,’’ Jayasuriya said, laughing, ‘‘It’s really good. You need to be really fit and train really hard and work really hard at your game. I’m happy to get this opportunity at this stage of my career. It suits me because I always play attacking cricket,’’ he said.
When I was a kid, they used to say about Sunil Gavaskar that the moment he played the on-drive, opponents knew that they were in for a long day in the field. Jayasuriya too has his favourite strokes. When did he realise that Wednesday could be his day? ‘‘I think the stroke I played in the second over, the extra cover drive. That was a perfect stroke and I realised that I was hitting the ball really well and today could be my day. If the ball is in my area and my zone I always hit it hard,’’ he said.
West Indies skipper Chris Gayle had recently commented that he was surprised that no one else has broken his record of scoring a 100 in a World Cup. Jayasuriya had a chance but tried a switch hit and was out leg-before. ‘‘Everyone was thinking about that today. But my thinking was to get more runs on the board. It’s a bit disappointing. What you want is for someone who is set to bat for 20 overs. Unfortunately I got out. If I had batted 20 overs, I would have scored a century. At the end of the day what we want as a player and team is to win the game,’’ the former captain said.
This legend of Sri Lankan will be turning 40 this June 30th, and we all hope he'll celebrate his birthday in style winning T20 WC for Sri Lanka. All the best Sanga & Co.